Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Dir: Scott Derrickson

I love horror movies, probably more than any other kind of movie. I watch as many as i possibly can on the off chance that one will scare the shit out of me as much as one of my very first horror films, The Exorcist, did. So far, close, but no luck. My very favorite are the ones based on true life events. That is why I saw The Exorcim of Emily Rose.

I walked into the theatre to watch this movie hoping that it was all of the above. It was and it was not, but never disappointing. Let me start by saying that this was in no way a horror movie, I kept waiting to wet myself from fright, but it was not to come. What is was, however, was a very engaging spiritual thriller. By the time i realized this, I was so wrapped up in it that I was not going to let go.

The basic storygoes like this: Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter) is a young college student who, after a failed exorcism has died from the demons, (yes demons plural, there are 6), that inhabit her body. What follows is her family priest, Father Moore, being accused of killing her through neglect. The balance of the movie is his trial and her story as told through the eyes of her family friends and Father Moore(Tom Wilkinson). The good father wants nothing more than to tell Emily's story. He feels that by doing so, the world will know that the spiritual realm exists. The Achdioses wants to spare The Church embarassment and shame, so it hires superstar attorney Erin Bruner (Laura Linney).

Bruner is not a spiritual woman, in fact she is an admitted non-believer. Her part of the story revolves around her lack of faith and having to deal with the fact that she what she does not believe in may be real. She takes the case only because she is offered partnership in her firm. She keeps it because, above all esle, she finds herself believing in Father Moore. Her counter part in the film is Ethan Thomas (Campbel Scott).

Thomas is a religious man, "methodist I, think" yet he seems to have even less faith than Bruner. It is proven time and time again that his faith is truly in science and the law and anything outside of that is nonsense. We do get to see in him a spritual conflict in which he must reconcile his faith with his beliefs. (he never does). He is faced with all the mythology of his religion potentially being real, and in the end becomes desparate to disprove it.

This movie blends internal and external conflicts beautifully. It explores faith and pits science and modern faith against it's own mythology.

While everyon in this film gave good performances, the heavy weights were by far the four lead roles: Father Moore, Bruner, Emily, and Thomas. Linney and Wilkinson have an amazing chemistry, even though linney plays a non-believer, there is a palpable spiritual relationship between her and Wilkinson. You actually feel them grow from client and lawyer to teacher and student, to friends. Campbell Scott also gives a solid performance, reminding us of the tangible part of our world, pleading with us to hold on to it. Carpenter, now here is a girl that knows how to be posessed. What more can i say about her? She was great.

On to what i truly love about any and all movies: Visual. This is an overall dark film. lots of cool blue and hot red lighting. What impressed me the most about the visual aspect of this film is the lack of special effects. I like special effects as much as the next guy, but i think that too often, filmmakers rely on them to tell us what they don't know how to. What many other filmmakers would have forced down our throats with SF, Derrikson and his crew do with make up and camerawork. It feels more real, because we are not forced to watch Emily turn CGI and back to show her demons. It is a successful way to use the few effects that they do use and a convincing experiment in storytelling.

Overall, this film is a must see. In fact, bring a friend, grab a soda and leave in throws of a spiritual conversation that is not about condeming us homos.

Watch it, Enjoy it, and Think about it.